Free Saturdays at IBMM debuts with a bang

About six weeks ago, we posted about a new program being offered by the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro, KY. The program is the museum’s Free Saturdays, where people interested in learning bluegrass music can obtain both free instruction and instruments on which to learn if they need them, all at no cost to them.

Randy Lanham, who heads up the Free Saturdays program at the IBMM sent us a description of this year’s launch of the program, along with a couple of photos, taken by Julie Pience. We encourage anyone who might be in a position to assist them in this effort, either financially, logistically or with an instrument donation, to contact the museum.

Here is Randy’s report (photos at the bottom):

October 8th at the International Bluegrass Music Museum was like no other day in history at the museum. About a month before, we had opened the door for the “Free Saturdays” lesson program, a 3 year old project started by the museum and offered to the local community to keep the fire burning in the bluegrass state by teaching our heritage, getting people excited about bluegrass music and having some fun along the way.

The program is open to anyone in the area that is interested in learning fiddle, mandolin, guitar or banjo and be a part of “The Bluegrass All-stars Band.” The lessons and the instruments are free as long as you are in the program thanks to sponsors like The Young Foundation and Kentucky Arts Council.

The past year we had about 107 people that had signed up so we thought it would be nice to double that. We had 407 people sign up this year and that blew us away but we met the challenge. We got all of the instruments ready to go and signed them out to the people in the program ranging in age from 3 to 75 years old. We have professional teachers from the area that organized their students and lesson times. In June of 2006 we will perform at the ROMP festival (River of Music Party) as a band playing Blue Moon of Kentucky and other songs.

Our vision is to one day set a world’s record for the Biggest Bluegrass Band on Earth. I am very proud to be the coordinator and teacher for this project as well as others. I also head up the BITS program (Bluegrass in the Schools) where I go into the local schools with up to 25 instruments at a time and teach a introduction to bluegrass music to kids in grades 3, 4, 5, and 6.

Also we are writing a musical, “The Story of Bluegrass Music,” as an assembly offered to local schools starting in the spring of 2006. The best part of my job is to see the look in the eyes of children when they play the first few notes or chords of a song and realize that they can do it. It is truly magic to teach the kids bluegrass music and instruments, especially the one”s that would otherwise never have a chance to experience that.

You can contact me by email if you have any questions about our programs. Long Live Bluegrass Music.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.